Monthly Archives: April 2011

Sin of omission

It is often said that to a boy with a hammer, everything looks like a nail; so Angela Shanahan celebrates the beatification of Pope John Paul II by focusing entirely on his conservative side (“John Paul towards sainthood”, The Australian, 30/4).

True, John Paul did not budge on sexuality and opposed Communist tyranny a little more than the other kinds, but he also criticised the excesses of capitalism, utterly rejected war (in particular the first U.S. invasion of Iraq), campaigned for social justice, accepted evolution and supported Vatican II. He appointed many liberal bishops.

By not mentioning the former Pope’s progressive side, Shanahan commits a serious sin of omission.

Google is your friend, Keith Windshuttle

Keith Windshuttle’s theory that Fairfax “imposed a nationwide ban on the [Behrendt tweet] story” (“Questioning credentials of an Aboriginal elite”, 21/4) is as easy to disprove as his other theories on indigenous Australians; a quick web search of The Age and SMH returns plenty of references to the tweet story. But it does raise the more pertinent question of why The Australian devotes many times the column-centimetres to its drawn-out crucifixion of Behrendt over a tweet, than it does to the Bolt racial vilification case for which she is more legitimately noteworthy.


Fortunately for liberty, the Constitution does not say that only the Federal government may initiate international boycotts, as The Australian tries to imply (“Middle East shames inner west” 19/4).

Individuals, sporting bodies and municipalities began adopting BDS against South Africa in the 1960s. and public opinion, businesses and the Federal government tardily followed. History judged this correct.

Israel is not South Africa, but to characterise BDS per se as far-Left lunacy is a smokescreen for the real question of whether sanctions are appropriate and effective in this case.

White people miffed

Gary Johns doesn’t get why “one Aborigine hating another in public doesn’t cut it under the Racial Discrimination Act” (“Not equal when it comes to being offensive”, The Australian, 14/4). If he had stopped to think for second, he may have realised that racial hatred is not about the race of those involved, but the reason for the hatred.

Johns’ theory that the deaths-in-custody and Stolen Generation inquiries constituted an indigenous campaign of racial vilification against “the commonwealth, that is, the white man” is factually, legally and constitutionally nonsense. He is miffed that white people didn’t get inquiries too, willfully ignoring the crucial distinction between what the Act calls the “dominant class” and the underdog.

Even if it were true that “white society” is so burdened by oppression, how does Johns conclude from this that laws should be changed to allow Andrew Bolt to freely dish out more of the same?

Minor conflict

Does Cut & Paste (The Australian, 12/4) seriously expect us to interpret Nicola Roxon’s attendance at a tennis match sponsored by Phillip Morris – twelve years ago – as a conflict with her current battle with big tobacco?

There are plenty of real conflict-of-interest stories around: tune in to Media Watch for tips. Cut & Paste often gets a mention there.

Ban hoodies

While any sincere discussion of the burka is welcome, attempts to legislate against it are an assault on liberty.

The veil may be seen as inconsistent with Western culture or as representing oppression of women, but so, for example, is some rap music. We don’t normally legislate culture, and we don’t force people to be free.

The veil covers the face, but so do hoods, beards, sunglasses, long hair, makeup, masks; no-one proposes banning them. Why single out the burka? Can brides still wear veils, or only Christian ones?

The burka is a garment, and a symbol. The most abhorred symbol of all, the swastika, is perfectly legal in France, where the burka now is not. Let’s hope Australia’s commitment to liberty is stronger than Sarkozy’s.

Gilded reminiscences

Why does Greg Sheridan find it necessary to hide the real subject of “How I lost my faith in multiculturalism” (The Australian, 2-3/4) in its title? His critique of militant strands of Islam has nothing to do with multiculturalism, immigration or refugee policy, Lakemba bad boys, or gilded reminiscences of his youth. By mixing these elements willy-nilly, he obscures his own argument and succours bigotry.


The Australian has long been telling us that Labor and the Greens represent “progressive inner-city elites” while the Coalition is the party of a purported socially-conservative “middle Australia”. But when Gillard buys into this fortune-cookie, they abruptly switch to the ultra-dry view that politics should exclude values and deal only with economics (“Gillard needs a debate on policies, not values”, April 05). Apparently the opportunity to criticise Gillard takes precedence over consistency.